Life in Space as Azuma Makoto Captures Flowers in the Cosmos

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Japanese artist Azuma Makoto is taking his work to new heights, literally. His art project, titled Exobiotanica, pits plants high above their home, bursting in color and beauty against the backdrop of a glistening planet Earth and the infinities of space that surrounds it. The project is simple in concept, visually beautiful in execution, and says volumes about the planet we’ve come to inherit.

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Working out of Black Rock Desert, Nevada and alongside JP Aerospace, Makoto sent organic life to the borders of space, suspended by balloon. Bonsai trees, orchids, lilies, and other fauna or flora were subject to altitudes exceeding 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees celsius. To the artist, exposing organic land-locked material beyond the confines of their earthly home transformed them into “exobiotanica,” or rather, extraterrestrial plant life.

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While Makoto’s intent is neat and its results hold true, I believe that there’s more being said here than simply sending life where there isn’t any. Jonathan Jones wrote on the Guardian, “these images dramatize the startling nature of planet Earth itself.” Makoto’s photographs beautifully put forth the mystery of life on Earth—something to be treasured, once realized.

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The fact of the matter is that our home, planet Earth, is the only known place in the entire universe to harbor life. We don’t know of any other planet that is alive as ours is. The richness of Earth’s organic matter is gorgeously apparent in Makoto’s arrangements, the brightly-colored flowers serve in stark contrast against the darkness of space that surrounds them.

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In talking about the importance of Makoto’s project, Jones references William Anders’ iconic photograph, Earthrise. Shot aboard Apollo 8 in 1968, the photograph was the first color image to look back upon ourselves from the outside. It has been declared “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken,” and helped spark the environmental movement. To me, this reference couldn’t be any more apt, as Makoto’s project entertains the same sentiment in aiding our appreciation for existing in a lifeless universe.

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While Makoto’s work might not be as historic as Earthrise, it’s certainly no less thought evoking. Projects such as these remind us that life on our planet is intertwined—Earth acting no more than a spaceship, nurturing its lively passengers. This concept has inherently been apart of our understanding for years, as demonstrated in the great landscapes of art’s past, such as Hokusai’s 35 views of Mount Fuji, which portrays the interlinking of sky and Earth.

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If you’re having a bad day or just want to feel enlightened, then look to pieces like Makoto’s Exobiotanica, Earthrise, or even Hokusai. You’ll quickly cherish the importance of this very special planet we’ve come to inhabit—it’s the only one orbiting amongst a vast sea of stars that’s bearing life and all its beautiful intricacies. Revel in the fact that you live here and are a part of it.

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Nick Partyka

July 29, 2014 / By

‘NASA Images of a Spacetime Odyssey’ Serves Up a Liberating Dose of Reality

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Last weekend the Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey aired, Carl Sagan’s masterpiece reimagined. In celebration, NASA unveiled a gallery of images, aptly titled “NASA Images of a Spacetime Odyssey.” It’s a gorgeous collection of some new, and some familiar images, from NASA’s repertoire of galactic exploration. More than that, this gallery is one of those beautiful moments when art converges with science, serving a dose of liberating reality, to aid in easing the troubles of our daily lives.

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Nick Partyka

March 13, 2014 / By

Space Suit of the Week: Tonight @ Gallery 1988 West, LA

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space the galley show

HI LOS ANGELES! What are you doing tonight? Tonight is the opening for SPACE! The Gallery Show - a group art show curated by artist Mike Mitchell at Gallery1988 (West). The event will feature a collection of original artwork at celebrates the past, present and future of man in the universe. The opening is from 7 – 10 pm; for more info you can scope their Facebook page. I wish I was in town to see it myself.

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Alana Zimmer

June 22, 2013 / By

Your New Handmade Heart

Rembrant "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp"

Earlier this month, I watched a team of medical professionals crowd around a table and perform a lung biopsy.  When that was finished, the team migrated to the adjacent operating room and completed a coronary bypass procedure on another patient. It was my first time to watch such complex operations, and I was worried that I’d feel lightheaded or get sick at the sight of an open human. But it was awesome.

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Alex Dent

June 7, 2013 / By

Space Suit of the Week: Hand Sewn NASA Space Suits

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I was a little stressed when Bobby announced that he wanted to do a handmade week. When it comes to aeronautics, handmade is probably the last word that comes to mind. Everything that goes into space is meticulously constructed by machine – if a measurement is off by a hundredth of an inch it could mean disaster. But there is one thing that is made by hand. Spacesuits.

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Alana Zimmer

June 7, 2013 / By

Making Crystals, Making Music and Making a Flamboyantly Saturated Universe by Hand

Linden Gledhill, Jon Hopkins Craig Ward Immunology Visuals Crystals

Linden Gledhill, Jon Hopkins Craig Ward Immunology Visuals Crystals

To follow-up on the watercolor music video that Bobby posted earlier this week, here’s another music video that uses colored water in a completely different way. It’s actually a fun experiment that involves mixing together Jon Hopkins, Linden Gledhill and Craig Ward. You might not hypothesize that the three men (a musician, a biochemist turned photographer and an art director, respectively) would mix well together because of their distinctly different expertise, but what comes of their collaboration is really stunning.

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Alex Dent

June 5, 2013 / By

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